BÜFA Thermoplastic Composites GmbH & Co. KG

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Will natural fibre-reinforced thermoplastics replace conventional materials?

The demand for natural fibre-reinforced thermoplastics for various applications is steadily increasing. It is not only growing environmental awareness that is driving companies to rethink the materials used in their production. After all, the properties of natural fibre-reinforced thermoplastics also offer numerous advantages over conventionally used materials.

The use of flax or basalt as a fibre with a thermoplastic matrix is a popular material combination. In addition to their physical properties, the advantages of natural fibres are primarily their negative CO2 balance, their recyclability, and their compatibility with conventional processes. The main area of application is primarily in the construction of trim elements in vehicle interiors, such as the parcel shelf or door trim, due to their natural, good damping properties and noise-absorbing capacity. Another advantage of natural fibers is that they do not tend to splinter in a crash, thus reducing the risk of injury.

However, the use of natural fibre-reinforced thermoplastics is also becoming increasingly popular in the sports & leisure sector, as natural materials are becoming more and more important in society. This area of mass products therefore also offers the greatest opportunity for replacing conventional products with natural fibre-reinforced materials. A clear sustainability trend can currently be seen here. The demand for “green products” can be attributed to growing environmental awareness and is therefore not only politically in tune with the times. Whether it’s a tennis racket made of natural fibre-reinforced thermoplastics or a baseball cap with an optically visible flax content – sustainable design is currently very much in vogue, and the trend is continuing to rise.

The use of natural fibre-reinforced thermoplastics is particularly popular in the form of unidirectional (UD) tapes or long fibre-reinforced thermoplastics (LFT). BÜFA Thermoplastic Composites offers basalt fibre-based tapes in addition to flax with PLA. With these materials, the production of fibre-reinforced laminates or organosheets, is also possible. In addition, cellulose matrix fibres are available as a raw material in the range, as well as in the product area of long fibre reinforced thermoplastics (LFT) with a combination of a PLA matrix.